Responding to Parkland, Florida school shooting

After I led this morning’s prayer with the NH Senate, I saw this bumper sticker as I drove back to my office: “The Wages of Sin is Death” (Romans 6:28). How sobering to see on the morning following the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Just yesterday many of our denominations celebrated Ash Wednesday, where the clear call is. “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15), that is, to change our hearts, minds and lives around the truth that there is a better and more excellent way of life.

Still in the spirit of Ash Wednesday, I believe the gospel that there is not only life after death but also redemption after sin. What would it look like if we as a nation repented of:

  • The sin of sloth, meant as our legislative inaction,
  • The sin of greed, meant as taking of bribes from those who urge unfettered access to weapons of mass killing,
  • The sin of wrath, meant as turning to violence rather than to faith-based, nonviolent means of conflict resolution,
  • The sin of pride, meant as valuing of some lives or one life over the lives of the many murdered students and teachers.

It is true that the wages of sin is death. The path from death to life remains as the New Testament always had it: repentance from sin and faith in Jesus, who offers “a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31) and “the life that truly is life” (1 Timothy 6:19). At least for today, I can offer the three actions below as a few ways in which the NH Council of Churches can support individuals and churches in this path of discipleship.

Peace and all good,

Rev. Jason Wells, Executive Director

 

1. Register for the next Active Shooter Response Training. In December over 200 people attended this workshop offered by Blue-U at Heritage Baptist Church in Nashua. Click here to register via EventBrite for:

Saturday, April 7, 2018, 10:00am-12:00noon
Grace Episcopal Church, 106 Lowell Street, Manchester, NH 03101

These events are designed specifically for active-shooter events in churches. However, the more people who participate in these, the more ready we will be in any environment, such as a school, hospital or workplace.

2. Read and share our 2013 Joint Statement on Gun Violence:

In light of the on-going tragedy of mass gun shootings our faith commends us to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).  We believe that every human being is created in the image of our Creator God (Genesis 1:26) and is therefore entitled to live in community free of the fear of gun violence and gun death.  Scripture calls us to “beat our swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2:4, Joel 3:10); our faith teaches us that our ultimate safety and freedom lies in God.  It is therefore idolatrous to imagine that guns, especially semi-automatic and automatic weapons, will protect us from harm.

3. Read and share a statement from Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar of the New England United Methodist Conference:

During this season of Lent, we are reminded to turn away from sin and toward God’s love. May we do all that we can to renounce wickedness, reject evil and repent of our own individual and collective sin.

Feb. 15: Reflection and prayer before the NH Senate

Senate Reflection on Psalm 90:4

Donald Knuth began writing his life’s work, The Art of Computer Programming, in 1962. Since then he has written three volumes and is currently working on a fourth volume. Now: computers have change a lot since 1962. I’m amazed that these books are able to remain a standard reference work for computer programmers even when the books were first conceived 55 years ago.

When the pace of change is fast, how can Don Knuth stay on top of it all? He doesn’t. He refuses to. He acknowledges that his “role in life” is not “to be on top of things. But …[his] role is to be on the bottom of things.”

When the pace of change is fast, when the deadlines are frequent and short, we make an effort to slow down, to find things that don’t change, values that endure, the truths that are the most fundamental. We prefer not to “stay on top of things,” but rather “on the bottom of things.”

 

Let us pray. Eternal God, for whom “a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past,” we are about to walk into the State of the State address and we fly toward crossover day, keep us rooted in our values, that we speak to each other on the deep level of the heart and so find, for ourselves and for others, peace. Amen.